(Ghostly International, 3/18/14)
For the proper follow-up to his 2011 breakthrough Dive, electronic producer / graphic designer Scott Hansen (a.k.a. Tycho and ISO50, respectively) re-imagines his music as a vehicle for a trio. This time around, rather than build the music in isolation and bring guest musicians in later, Hansen relied more heavily on contributions from his backing band, bassist / guitarist / co-producer Zach Brown (Dusty Brown, DoomBird) and drummer Rory O’Connor (Nitemoves).
On Awake, Hansen brings O’Connor’s parts to the forefront, giving the music a much stronger pulse than his previous work. Likewise, though Hansen largely has written on acoustic guitar in the past, he and Brown strip the arrangements down so that guitar and bass stand out as essential focal points rather than decorative additions.
The keyboard element isn’t totally absent, however. Hansen is careful not to cover the band’s organic interplay with layers of synths, but he does employ analog keyboards that highlight the sensation of the music being “played” as opposed to constructed. Awake still reflects the emphasis on ambience that made Tycho’s earlier efforts fall somewhere between scenic and melancholy. But the new material clearly shows his muse growing to accomodate the energy of a band.